A lawyer’s job is to help the client. It may be by preparing a simple will or by representing the client in complex commercial litigation. Obviously, whatever the task, the lawyer must know the law and apply the law to achieve the appropriate result for his client. If the client knows that the lawyer knows the law and how to use it for the client’s benefit, the client’s confidence in the lawyer is confirmed. As a lawyer much wiser than me often said, however, the client does not care what you know until he or she knows that you care.
At Clarke Law Offices it has been my honor to represent people who have experienced catastrophic losses. Whether it is a parent who has lost a child or person who has lost the ability to function normally and handle activities of daily living, my clients have needed and deserved much more than my legal knowledge. While I fall far short of being a counselor, therapist, social worker, or intimate friend, I have always felt it part of my duty and a source of my greatest reward to listen deeply to my clients and try to understand that their case is about much more than liability and the appropriate legal measure of damages. My clients have suffered tremendous personal losses and they need me to be able to relate to them with an understanding of those losses.
This starts, of course, with listening. There will be plenty of time to tell the client what I know about wrongful death litigation, suing a doctor or other professional, and how we will put the damages case together. Listening isn’t just being quiet and thinking about who I am going to sue and when while my client is talking; listening is being quiet and paying attention to my client’s words. Sometimes it is best to just listen, don’t take notes-just listen. I am not afraid to ask the client to clarify a point; nor am I afraid to offer my sympathies and understanding of their circumstance.
This is not an exact science and I am not a perfect practitioner. Over the years, however, some of the greatest compliments I received from clients are that they knew I cared. Knowing as much as I can about the personal impact of my clients’ losses has strengthened my commitment to work my hardest for my client.
As I have said countless times, I truly hope none of you ever need my services; that would mean you suffered a loss that no one of should ever experience. If you do, in addition to promising my best professional efforts, I will strive to understand your loss in your own terms.